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This is a children's story, but one with dark themes : a family who don't communicate with one another, parents who lack the courage to tell the truth. The action takes place amid everyday activities in a very ordinary sort of town: mending a slow puncture, opening the trap door to the attic, picking strawberries and making jam. But each of these everday scenes, covincingly described, fit together and shed light on the basic mystery of the story: what happened to Kate Tranter's father.
The story begins with Kate coming home from school and letting herself into her familiy's cheerless house and going past the door of her Granny's room. From the door, standing slightly ajar, comes not a beam of light, but a beam of darkness. And that beam of darkness plays a key role later in the story. The deliciously tempting-sounding Sattin Shore turns out to be a lonely place on a estuary with dangerous tides, but there lie the secrets which Kate's family are trying to hide.
Helena Bonham-Carter's narration is superb. She manages to bring out all moods and shades of the family's halting dialogue and keeps us on edge waiting for the next twist of the plot.
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